The Candle in the Darkness

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When I asked Empress Verundane to restore Vaetta to the Pantheon of the Empire, she declined, citing only the faithful could do so.

I did not realise the wisdom of this choice until now.

I had not imagined there would be so many emerging in the Empire, nor that Vaetta’s emerging faithful would be so willing to put forward their faith so quickly. In showing me Hope still beats in the breast of the Dwarves, I see the future prosperity of the faith of Vaetta.

I have heard tales of statues through the Empire in my image, and I have only begun to realise the responsibility I have to stand by my actions. I do not wish idolisation to surpass the message of Hope I tried to bring back to the Dwarven people. The killing of the Dread Wraith was done at my hand, but I would not have done so without each race and faith at my side. That is why I say that Hope sees all races through.

From time to time, we all need guidance, especially when on matters of faith, or navigating unknown places. I know this better than anyone, for when I was lost, it was the light of Hope that was given to me from the shadows. For the Dwarves, faith in Hope is one that was lost, as this faith was greatly diminished in the time of our father’s fathers. The parts that survive are being sought and searched for, but there are living sources as well. Like all Hope, it could never be truly extinguished.

All the faithful of every church have debated their philosophies for years, establishing the precedent by which they judge and worship. Vaetta has not had such for a long time. I have attempted to put forth my thoughts, my ideas, consolidating the faith of Hope with what it means to be a Dwarf, and I pray that what I put to page are philosophies that do Vaetta justice. It is also my Hope that these pages grant insight for those that would use it, and that those coming with me on this journey together – that of Vaetta’s faithful.

Orrin Wraithslayer of Clan Stonebreaker

Priest of Vaetta

On the Blue Rose

For centuries among other races, the symbol of Vaetta has been a blue rose, for reasons never truly known. We have been adopting this symbol from the humans and Elves, and it is one well chosen for the rose represents the Soul – and Hope is born within the Soul.

In the deepest places of the Shadowlands, shielded from mortals, are the pathways to the heavens. As is known, the Souls of those that have died pass through the Shadowlands to their eternal reward. But there is the garden of Souls, where Death oversees the growth of every Soul in the form of a blue Rose.

Watching the garden is Baelar the Uniter – A duty he has taken in exchange for knowing of the soul.

I know this because I have seen it.

We did not uncover this knowledge but were guided to it by divine providence – by Vaetta’s will that we might bring an end to the Shadow War for all time. The power of the Soul is great – it is that spark of the divine that raises us above mere animals. But take the soul from it’s rightful place in the Garden, and it is fragile and as easily broken as the blooming form it takes.

There will always be those that seek the power of the soul and mastery over Death – this cannot be done. Those that try are always caught in time. They are folded into the numbers of the Reapers of Death and bound to that solemn duty, or destroyed.

Hope comes from the soul. It can be inspired by the outside, by event or stirring motivation, but it can have no reason or basis but simple belief that a desired end may come about. It is this reason that the Gods of Hope have held this symbol, and one that I will always feel personally connected to.

On the duties of Vaetta’s faithful

Hope is never found in only one place, and neither is Wisdom. I left the Empire’s Heart because I thought I could seek more insight into both. I never dreamed what would happen while I was away.

On a recent visit to the lands of the Valmar I have seen how Dwarves are taking up the word of Vaetta – small numbers, for now, but growing. It fills me with Hope that our people can learn to embrace it once again.

Not only this, there are those so sure of this new way they are declaring themselves Priests of Vaetta. I encountered one of these newest priests, locked in debate with a priest of Vengrim. Her enthusiasm and faith were clear, giving her a zeal for Hope that fills my heart. But the matter was one of Law, and of interpretation of the law as is written – Vengrim’s own right of authority. And this has given me cause to think. Hope sustains us when we are at our darkest. I would never someone not to have Hope. But to cross the authority of the Gods is not Hope, and though well-intentioned may show disrespect to those loyal of other Gods. To offer the advice of trusting only to Hope, when the knowledge exists and can be found is to offer advice that may not be in the best interest, and limit their prosperity. For centuries the churches of the Faithful have existed by mutual respect, and recognising the authority of the deities they follow. Temperance is the path of recognition and respect. We cannot press our new faith above theirs; we must show wisdom, respect their authority over their domains, and earn our place among them again.

To those that would be priests of Vaetta, and that name themselves as such - I am not learned; I do not have scholarly knowledge nor wisdom of age. I seek to learn, and what I have seen is the world outside and the faiths that live and reside there, that did not fade away. I have spoken with Elves and Humans that follow the one they call Athaya, Vaetta’s counterpart, Deity of fortune, luck, and Hope. It was in this way that I first saw Hope. It was (and will always be for me) a light in the darkness – a reassuring spark that held my spirit in the days of the Shadow war and sustained me until I found Courage in the arms of my comrades once again.

But we are no longer in such desperate times, and light alone does not grant justice, or make Lore, or build communities. It contributes to all these things, elevating the whole, but is no sound replacement for any in the long term. Employ the knowledge and wisdom of the other faiths. I can Hope and pray all I wish, but if I do not make effort apply my hands and my mind, Hope is only a beginning and not sufficient to bring about the goal. Dwarves rarely trust to luck, but we are seeing this does not mean we have to abandon Hope. We trust to action. The Dwarves of Vaetta must not forget this in their faith, for we are to offer not only Hope, but Prosperity. This latter path involves offering tools of success – wisdom, not just faith.

Many of you are only just discovering what it means to have faith, and to have Hope. I know this, because I am among you. But we have all lived among the faithful of the Gods all our lives, and their examples are many. A priest of Brenna will still turn to Vengrim on matters of Law, and a scholar of Rhundr would do well to heed the advice of priests of Haldr on the needs of the community. As those who seek to offer Hope, we must temper our faith with wisdom when offering our advice. This is even more crucial with those that declare yourselves Vaetta’s priests – remember that this declaration is not just a show of your faith, but and embracing of a duty to those around you, and exposing yourself to the judgement of others. You no longer speak only for yourself, but all those who follow the Lady of the Blue Rose.

It has always been important to me that we do not forget who we are. The Dwarven people have ever been strong, and proud. We are a people of will, of word and deed. We endure. When I lose my way I return to these principles and seek their guidance in measure with my faith. Vaetta gives Hope, yes, but she is the God of both Hope and Prosperity. The former we have seen, and in the darkness the world has so recently endured so easy to understand. The latter is what differs Vaetta from Athaya, just as the Dwarves differ from the other Races; the engaging of effort, the reaping of the sown, and the just rewards from the sweat of one’s brow. Show this to our people – help them see that in the banishing of our dark past we may rise into a new age of Prosperity.

On the Church of Hope

Vaetta was never gone from our people. We took the emergence of the Draugr from her lost temple as a sign that Hope was abandoning the Dwarves, but we were mistaken. It was us that turned our backs on her.

We walled up the temples and shrines, and left the texts to vanish over time. But they are still out there. They still remain. The wing in the Imperial chapel was proof; I restored her with help from the acolytes of the temple, and now it stands clean in gold and blue, light shining in the darkness. We need to restore these places wherever they may be, lost for centuries but lying only dormant, that we might one day restore Vaetta’s church and return her blessing upon us all. Already those calling themselves priests of Hope are emerging, and it makes me happy to know I am not alone. This budding priesthood must know our work is great, but the prosperity we may build together is greater.

Hope thrives on symbols such as these.

I Hope to see Vaetta restored. There are many ways to help do this. We seek her lost sites of worship. We consult our vast records and lores, to find any information on the laws of Vaetta. I myself spend time with the priests of Athaya and the dwarves of Refuge, taking the philosophy of my people and the philosophies of another race’s perceptions of Hope and Fortune.

We are all the pioneers of a new age, a time where the actions of the past have been absolved. The faithful of Vaetta are restoring what has been forgotten as a result of the events of the First Shadow War. Though our task is a noble one, we must not lose who the Dwarven people have become. Hope is a virtue, but it does not exist in isolation. Hard work, determination, duty – the Dwarves have lived by these principles from before the time of the Empire, and we should not abandon these and forget what it means to be a Dwarf in pursuit of our faith. Consider the other faiths of the Empire – their example on their role is one we can learn from, as priests of the other Gods still tend to duties in our great society. A priest has duties to their god, yes – but we are still Imperial citizens and have duties to the Empire as well. Consider those that are not devoted but still remember the Gods – we are their opposite, their spiritual balance. We are becoming devoted, but must not forget our roots in the Empire.

It is a fine line we must walk, not abandon one in pursuit of the other.

On Hope and Courage

Just as some domains are separate and there are those that follow their paths, there are some places where domains are close and at times indistinguishable. Nowhere in the Pantheon is the intertwining of belief so strong as that of Hope with those of Inspiration and Courage. Courage is action, will, determination, and have been foundational beliefs of the Empire since it’s creation. A great part of Hope is refusal not to concede to despair, and that the two are linked is undoubtable.

It is curious to some why I consider Courage to be so important, and the answer is simple.

During the War, like many of us, I took to praying to Brenna often. I was a scout for the Dren’dar, and would often go into tunnels hiding and listening for the Undead and their forces and ambushes within. The importance of Courage was never far from my mind. And then everything changed.

I was to offer up my Soul for the weapon to destroy the Dread Wraith leader. I did so willingly, but that act changed me irrevocably. It bound me to the destiny of Ilmarin – a task I could not believe I was worthy of. That I did not believe I could do. My courage left me that day, and for what felt like the longest time I gave in to fear and despair.

I was given an option – concede, or keep going. So often we are given this choice. If I did the former everything I had done was pointless, and not only that the rest of Ilmarin may well fall. To keep pressing onward one needs a reason, and when all others reasons have gone Hope can still remain. Such was the offer I was made – but not alone. I was supported, not only with Hope, but by being given reasons to have Hope of my own, until I could find Courage.

In the end, I did find my Courage, in the final battle. With my comrades from the Two Crowns I was able to find the courage I needed, but I would not have been there at all without the believe that against the odds we might persevere.

Without Courage, we struggle to fight. Without Hope, we struggle to act. If one has Courage, they also have Hope, for they have found reason to act. If one has Hope, they may not have Courage, but they have a much better chance of finding it should they need it.

As I have said before, Hope is for all. When farmers plant, they Hope for a good harvest. When educators teach, they Hope their students learn the lessons.

Does this make it more important that Courage? No.

If Courage and Hope were the same, there would be one god ruling over both. If either was unimportant, they would not have a god at all. The Faithful of Brenna are always stalwart allies, for they understand the need to hold fast, never surrender to despair, and to keep the will of others from failing. In this, we share common purpose, shielding the spirit of the people.

This world needs Hope to rebuild. It needs Courage to face the challenges of this new world when they come.

On the Other Races

We are One.

I have already said that Hope sees all races through - I cannot stress this enough.

Hope, Courage, Wisdom, Justice, Community, Light and Darkness. These are all found in all races, and so are all the Gods, by their own names and the understanding of those races.

United we stand, divided we fall. It is the principle that built this very Empire, and many of us believe it is so much easier when among our own race. This, I say, is not true. In the second Shadow War, had we tried to stand alone, we would have fallen. My own role, aggrandised as it is, would never have succeeded without the efforts of the other Races. But I consider it a sign that at the moment Hope revealed all was not lost, the discovery of the Hidden Vale, that it was revealed to the races that had worshipped Vaetta - an Elf, an Human, and a Dwarf. A reminder that though we had turned from Vaetta we were not forgotten. An Opportunity to show the Dwarven worth was still strong, and that we could still offer Hope – though it was seen as Inspiration and Courage, that was not what it brought about for the other Races. A fool’s Hope, perhaps, but that was all that remained.

It is important, too that the Orcs are not forgotten. Though they do not worship the Gods as we know them, they too played their role on the Western Fronts and with the shaman that guarded my soul.

The Empire has the greatest trade in the known world, but so many of us remain so insular. The affairs of Dwarves have so often been private as we seek to resolve our own issues. It is in our nature – but it is a part of ourselves we should seek to change. Hope does belong to all races – and I encourage you all to know them better. Working together creates Prosperity for all, as the Empire shows. The other races know Hope better than we do, having never left it behind, but they have different believes from their natures – replacing work with chance, effort with coincidence, providence with fortune. They can learn from us that Hope need not be blind, but only the beginning of the work.

Our own relations with the Valmar has shown that great understanding is possible, and indeed they have knowledge of our Empire, our Culture. But what do we know of them? I visited Svalbard and learned many things, all in one day. We should share our enlightenment, yes, but Rhundr teaches us that wisdom is not the providence of any one race. Just as we are striving to uncover a lost facet of our past, so too are many secrets being reworked and revealed. The Shadowgates, used for the first time in centuries, restoring the connections of Ilmarin.

Of late I have seen that there are other races that exist on Anvar. Races with cultures we do not understand – lost, hidden, insular. And I have seen that they can still act out of great need, against odds – out of Hope. Not as we understand it perhaps, but if one does not give in to desperation then one is striving to have a form of Hope.

Does this mean that the old enemies have Hope? I cannot say. Perhaps one day, we will see. But for now, we must remember that as bringers of Hope, we are tasked to bring it not only to our own people, but to all peoples.

On Heroes

Heroism is a grandiose word. It conjures images of epic battles, slayers of monsters, and noble champions. It is another of those places where the ideals of Brenna and Vaetta overlap, the tale of success against the odds, of Courage, mettle, and undimmed Hope.

Hope has a long association with the underdog, the lesser fighter overcoming a superior foe through pluck and determination. That is one of the most appealing facets of Hope – that anyone can overcome adversity, no matter how great, and become a hero. It is a tenet we hold dear for it is the truth that saw the Shadow War through.

Heroes are known for their actions. Hope and Prosperity are brought about by actions. Evil is also brought about by actions. Austerity is brought about by actions.

The point is this: it is not actions themselves that make heroes. The actions of the unnamed dead may be no less noble but far less well-remembered with no songs sung. The simple truth is people make heroes. People choose them based on the results of actions for the people. Those that perform such deeds and that survive long enough to become considered heroes use their skills, play to their strengths, and are bolstered by allies. Those that live long enough to see their actions bear fruit are blessed with no small amount of luck and the eye of the divine. More than anything, they do what is right regardless of personal cost.

When you consider someone known as a hero, consider them not as a figure of legend, but a person. Why did they act so? What was their motivation? Is that truly worthy of praise? Does it inspire virtuous actions? If so, then that may be a true hero.

I am not trying to be cynical of the Heroes of the past. I simply know what people call me, and what I consider of myself, and the questions I ask of myself.

The world does need heroes, symbols to inspire Hope. The words of Brenna herself are that both Hope and Courage need to be kindled and inspired. My wisdom is this – do not seek to be a hero, thinking only of how people might see you. The potential of the individual is great, for good and evil. Seek to do what is right and just by your conscience and by your Gods, for that is what brings Hope to the virtuous of all races.

On Evil

There are sources of great evil in this world. The agents of Zurhen (or Za’arel in the common tongue) would have us believe that Hope is a false virtue.

I do not believe this, for I know without Hope the Draugr would have won. I have seen despair, the true absence of Hope and Courage, with my own eyes. My Soul has passed through that darkest place, and emerged stronger than ever.

I have seen the world where the individual puts themselves above the people, where they seize power for only their own gain. That is what formed the five Dread Wraiths, their greed turning a place of life into a world of blasted sands. The lure of power can never be sated, leaving only a ceaseless hunger that pressed these monsters to feed on all life, and when their world was dead, the sought another, and another, until they came to us. When such unknown evil rises, there is always the means to fight it. All who stand against such evils become heroes.

Such have I seen. Such is the knowledge that should not be forgotten. Remember the truth - through work and strength we prosper, but as Haldr decrees this must not be at the expense of others.